Warwick students are planning a protest in response to the presence of a number of arms companies at the upcoming Engineering Careers Fair on 17th November.
The protest, coordinated by People and Planet’s “Weapons Out of Warwick” group, is part of ongoing activism against the arms trade on campus. The annual engineering careers fair is the focal point of this activism because of the attendance of several companies who manufacture and sell weapons around the world. Arms manufacturers in attendance on 17th November include BAE Systems, Rolls Royce, QinetiQ, Thales, and MBDA.
Students from societies including People and Planet, Amnesty, and different campus political groups will take part in the demonstration.
Previous years have seen protesters donning grim reaper costumes and attempting to enter the careers event in a visual demonstration of the destructive consequences of the arms trade. In 2008 students entered the fair, and synchronised the unveiling of t-shirts bearing factual information about different arms companies at the event. On both occasions protesters were removed.
University press officer Kelly Parkes-Harrison told the Boar, “The University will always uphold students’ right to peacefully protest against companies or things they dislike and will always also uphold the right of students who are considering pursuing careers with the very same companies to attend careers fairs to meet with representative of those companies.”
The matter of allowing companies with poor ethical records onto campus is one that has sparked controversy in the past.
Whilst Warwick Careers Service aims to inform students fully about possible careers, not everyone agrees with the decision to allow unethical companies onto campus.
According to the Weapons Out of Warwick Facebook group, “huge aspects of the realities of the arms trade are entirely glossed over at careers events. These organisations, perhaps understandably, fail to promote many aspects of what they do.”
James Clay, a third year Engineering undergraduate, told the Boar, “a number of the companies that come to our careers fair have a pretty poor track record: BAE Systems has sold weapons and military technology to Saudi Arabia, Zimbabwe, Indonesia, and Israel; all countries with a poor human rights record.
“But this isn’t something they’re likely to tell you. It’s really not that transparent.”
BAE Systems is also currently under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) over corruption allegations regarding arms deals with countries including Tanzania, South Africa, and the Czech Republic.